It's about Honor, Integrity and Duty. It's about standing and delivering on a promise and the Imitation of Christ. It's about HIS Cross and not mine, and why should my actions be any different. It's about the Agape, and not about the Philia or the Eros that seem to permeate our modern society and the modern Catholic Church. It's about the resistance necessary to counteract an inherent evil. It's about embracing selflessness rather than self. It is about my children and their Faith and how to live it. It is about a Sacrament and what it means to rise to its defense, no matter the cost to self.
Raymond Cardinal Burke, in a recent homily on October 10th, said that man's “salvation consists in his fidelity to the existing marriage bond, and he cannot pretend to establish another. His calling is to seek the salvation of the partner, even if he can do so only by praying for her.” And this is one of the ultimate goals of a marriage - the sanctification of the spouses through the patient acceptance of each other's Crosses - is it not? It is also the same salient point that Bishop Sheen often spoke of - the Agape love demanded in marriage to ensure its success. Or, as he put more simply, "to love the unlovable".
I have no reason to love my former spouse. Could very well, in fact, easily find a multitude of reasons why I have every right to do so. And I have, quite truthfully. Stopped praying for her more than once, but it never lasted more than a day or two. Why? I believe it is nothing less than the Agape love shown by Christ and that Bishop Sheen speaks of. Do the Graces that come through the Sacrament suddenly cease when a divorce is finalized? Not hardly. Do they cease when a marriage is obliterated via annulment? I don't know for certain, but I would like to believe not because of the children and the fact that one is still a parent even after a divorce and annulment. The Sacrament itself may have been ruled moot, but the effects of the Sacrament (Graces) must still be extant simply because of the children. Such is my belief, but am open to correction if any theologian should know differently.
So...here I sit, writing this simple defense of my marriage, my vocation and my children - and the Sacrament that brought all three together. It is a defense I do not take lightly, though at the onset of this divorce that is precisely what I was doing. Any man or woman caught-up in the juggernaut of no-fault divorce can barely resist its siren-call and it is only the Graces of the Sacrament that can stop the free-fall. I could not walk away from the vows I made, even though Holy Mother Church now gives me that right via an 8-1/2" x 11" piece of white paper in my file cabinet. I can assure you it will never be used.
I can't unlove my spouse, for to do so would lessen the love I have for my children. The two are inseparable in my opinion - can one truly love their children as much after a divorce as before if one spouse has now truly "unloved" the other? Can one "unlove" the spouse that helped bring a family into existence? Won't that take once again from the children a part of them that will never truly be replaced? I cannot "unlove" my former spouse, though I am sure there are many who would dispute most vehemently that idea. I don't set and pine away longing for something that is improbable and more like to fantasy, but neither will I - nor can I - separate the reality that I still Love the woman I married 27 years ago.
I wrote a comment to a blog post recently that asked rhetorically: "Are our vows not meaningless if we allow "irreconcilable differences" to overshadow them? Even if only one spouse does so, does it follow necessarily that the other must also follow along? We are powerless to stop the civil and legal effects of divorce once initiated by a petitioner; what we do have, however, is the power to live our vows as Christ intended; to resist the civil and live the Divine."
That is what I have chosen to do as regards to the ending of my marriage: Resist. I can't undo what has already been done. But as I wrote, "I simply have chosen not to let my future be defined by that and continue to honor my first vows and the woman they were spoken to. I owe as much to her and to Christ, as well as to our children, who will hopefully understand the seriousness of their own vows when they approach by the hopefully good example I try to give."
Copyright 2015 David Heath - All Rights Reserved